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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
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Women’s Hoops: On the verge of history

By Natalie Dicou

It’s been 31 years since the U women’s basketball team won 18 straight games. Back then, Jimmy Carter was president. “Rocky” was the Best Picture, and first-class stamps cost $0.13. The record has stood for a long time.

With a win tonight against TCU, the Utes would surpass the 1977 mark and etch their own spot into the record books with an unprecedented 19th straight victory.

However, beating TCU, one of the hottest teams in the MWC, won’t be a piece of cake for the Utes (23-3, 12-0 MWC). TCU, which has been invited to the last seven NCAA tournaments, is 10-2 in league play and is holding firm at second place in a conference that features two ranked teams — No. 16 Utah and No. 24 Wyoming. The last time the two teams met, Utah beat the Horned Frogs 60-50 in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU has since improved. After dropping seven of its first 12 games, TCU has since won 12 out of 14.

The race for the conference crown is still far from over. The Utes have a two-game lead over TCU with four games left in the regular season. A TCU victory would cut into Utah’s advantage and considering that Wyoming pays a visit to the Huntsman Center next week, a loss to the Horned Frogs would put the Utes in a precarious situation.

So, what’s the key to avoiding a TCU upset?

“You have to make sure they don’t get points in transition, both off steals and just from running,” Utah head coach Elaine Elliott said. “(You can’t let TCU) get behind you. That is absolutely the No. 1 key.”

TCU has the best turnover margin in the MWC (+5.25), and the Utes are third (+2.08). Last time Utah and TCU clashed, the Utes coughed up the ball 24 times.

“They’re an athletic team, and they like to get most of their offense out of turnovers,” Utah guard Leilani Mitchell said. “Then they push (the ball) and get fast-break layups all day. So, if we slow them down in that area, I think we should be OK.”

The Horned Frogs feature a balanced scoring attack. First-team All-MWC player Adrianne Ross leads the team with an average of 11.7 points per game, but Lori Butler-Rayford and Helen Sverrisdottir aren’t too far behind at 10.5 and 10.3, respectively.

“They’re a good team,” Mitchell said. “They have a lot of people that can score. In conference their scoring is really balanced. It’s going to be tough.”

The Utes’ scoring is balanced, too. Add five points to the TCU trio’s scoring averages and you’ll have the scoring averages of Utah’s top three scorers. Morgan Warburton, who was named MWC Player of the Week on Monday, leads the league with 18.0 points per game. Mitchell is close behind with a 16.1 point-per-game average, and Kalee Whipple pitches in 15.4 points per contest.

Tonight’s game could provide a historic moment in Utah women’s basketball lore, but trying to get the Utes to talk about the streak is like trying to get Jerry Sloan to say something positive about a rookie.

“We don’t talk about it (amongst ourselves), but everybody knows about it,” Elliott said. “It’s cool. Let’s enjoy it, but it’s not a major focus for us.”

Mitchell agrees.

“I think looking back on it later, it’ll be a big accomplishment,” Mitchell said. “But right now we’re trying to focus one game at a time. If we’re not focused, we could lose the title so we just need to come out and play hard every game.”

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